Bénédicte Desforges: the policewoman who wanted the skin of prohibition

Supported by Yann Bisiou, François-Michel Lambert and Renaud Colson, the Police Against Prohibition (PCP) movement is a reference in the fight for the legalization of cannabis in France. Exclusively made up of representatives or former representatives of the police, the collective is one of the voices that could tip the balance during the referendum on legalization which is announced in 2022. Zeweed asked Bénédicte Desforges a few questions , the co-founder of the movement and feather behind their twitter account with 9,300 followers.

Gendarmes and police against prohibition, it’s unexpected! What is your background and how did you get the idea for PCP?
I am a former cop who has always worked in uniform on the streets, in Paris and in the suburbs. I was in the National Police for fifteen years, especially in Hauts-de-Seine, Gennevilliers or Nanterre but also in Paris, in the 18th arrondissement. Criminogenic corners to say the least.
As for the Police Against Prohibition (PCP), it is police officers from all sides who are interested in drug-related problems.

“It was above all a question of making the voice of those who are at the bottom of the penal chain heard”

After exchanging between us, the idea came at the end of 2018 to set up this collective because we had the same interests and the same conclusions concerning narcotics, namely; legalization of cannabis and decriminalization of uses. It was above all a matter of making the voices of those at the bottom of the criminal chain heard.
Lawyers, magistrates and other associations had existed for a long time, but the police did not make themselves heard. We had to take our word for it and bring a useful point of view that was lacking. The collective is made up of a dozen members who form the hard core. Around, gravitate dozens of police officers who follow us, support us, bring sympathy and support our ideas.

We often see you on Twitter talking about weed, responding to cannabis tweets with humor and detachment: Are PCP members consumers?
Some yes and some no. In reality, we do not even ask the question. For us, this is a subject that is entirely a matter of private life and we want it to be so in the eyes of the law as well. Asking if someone smokes cannabis is as relevant as asking when was the last time. What concerns a police officer is whether the individual risks being a danger to others.
A simple example on this subject, we want drivers to be subjected to behavioral tests rather than drugs which can mean anything and nothing. But concerning the PCP, we are regularly accused by other cops of being gauchos, collaborators or consumers, while our approach goes far beyond these questions.

How do you go about moving these ideas forward?
We discuss regularly among ourselves to know how to intervene on a particular subject on social networks. Concretely, we encourage our colleagues to stop taking legal action against consumers. We do not approach them by telling them that we must legalize cannabis. Above all, we tell them that if they do not ask the question, they endorse the policy of the number that they denounce all day long. Everyone has free will and can set a limit to what they will or will not retain as an offense.

“We encourage our colleagues to stop taking legal action against consumers”

Today you are no longer in the police force, how was it in the field when you were on duty?
I resigned in 2012. My luck was to work in a department insensitive to the politics of numbers. If we didn’t want to call for a bar of hash, we didn’t. There are much more rewarding crimes that need to be addressed. With my colleagues, we all had the position of saying “this repression is uninteresting, unnecessary and only serves to fuel the policy of numbers”. It’s a bit like pedestrians, no one verbalizes those who cross beyond zebra crossings. For us, this logic also applies to the stoner.

Can you detail this figure policy?
The crackdown on drug use is easy to do and 100% cleared up. It is the goose that lays the golden eggs of this system. In fact, the executives of the police receive bonuses which are subordinated to the activity of the workforce. The chiefs are pushing for more money. So some focus on narcotics for this purpose. But what is curious is that colleagues complain about all this, without ever making the link with the need for comprehensive reform.

Last September, the fixed tort fine was implemented with one objective: to simplify the work of the police. What do you think ?
Of the lifts we have, it is a gas plant. We know very well that many will never pay them and, moreover, the recovery rate is quite low. So, yes, maybe that lightens the work of the police and the justice system in absolute terms, but we can’t wait to see the results a year later concerning efficiency. And, when we take a step back, we think above all that the tort fine has nothing to do with any concern for public health. We crack down on consumption, but for what purpose?

“The tort fine has nothing to do with any public health concern”

What would be your recommendations to put an end to the current situation?
To begin with, it would need a system like in Portugal or other country. This goes on all fronts, from self-production to initiatives such as social clubs in Spain. It is out of the question to leave everything in the hands of the black market and to deprive oneself of quality products as well as more fluid prevention campaigns.
Moreover, I insist on one point. Legalization and decriminalization go together. From the point of view of the police, just legalizing thinking that it will ease our work is nonsense because the black market will persist and we will always be asked to arrest and make foreclosures. Also, how do you distinguish a legal seal from an illegal seal? The police must be able to be redirected to useful activities and the repression of consumers is not one of them.

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